Thursday, March 29, 2012

The How and Why of Grass-Fed Beef Marrow and Fat

I saw beef bones from grass-fed cows for sale the other day at Whole Foods and decided to buy them. I love beef marrow for its flavor, texture and nutrient content, so I boiled the bones in water, which cooked the marrow and created a great (flavor, nutrients) stock . Yes, it was that simple.

After removing the marrow from the bones, I let the stock (with the bones) sit in the refrigerator overnight to allow the fat to harden, which made for easy skimming and removal (photo, above).

I was about to throw away this grass-fed beef fat when I thought to myself, "This is crazy; why the hell would I throw away this flavorful, nutrient-dense fat?" It now rests comfortably in a glass jar in my refrigerator, ready to be used in the cooking of grass-fed hamburgers this weekend.

I'm sure most (if not all) modern-day nutritionists (schooled in the modern-day hypothesis that a low-fat diet, no matter how many chemicals, is a good thing) would tell me I am crazy. My response? I'll take the beef fat's monounsaturated fat and its abundance of nutrients, plus the satiation and flavor it provides, any day of the week over supposedly "heart-healthy" vegetable oils that are devoid of nutrients and flavor and are produced employing a harsh chemical process using canola, soy and corn that are genetically engineered and sprayed with a ton of pesticides.

Trust me, you won't hear any of that anytime soon on any of the national morning news/variety programs.

There also won't be any questions asking when our modern diseases and ailments—obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, attention deficit disorders, cancers, etc.—began to proliferate. When we were eating beef marrow
from cows eating grass and chicken skin from chickens eating worms, insects and grass? Or when we started to consume processed alternatives of these traditional foods, ones that contain agents (hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, genetically engineered foods, bleaches, emulsifiers, etc.) that our bodies can't identify and process?

Remember that all beef (and chicken and apples and bread and yogurt) is not created equal. Cattle processed on factory farms, where they are given hormones, antibiotics and genetically engineered feed, are much, much different than cattle eating grass (cows' natural diet) and raised without growth-promoting drugs.


It Is Our Normal said...

We have grass-fed, organic meat. Do you think if I did what you did I could use the fat like lard, and make a pie with it?

Chef Rob said...

I'm asking two friends who are both professional/expert bakers. I'll post replies ASAP.

Chef Rob said...

First response: "I think you could but you'd want to balance with butter as well. Check this out"

(Response from author of In Sweet Treatment blog:

It Is Our Normal said...

Thank you. I make pies with the lard I find on the store shelf right not. Not the greatest stuff. I will try this way and let you know.

Chef Rob said...

And the second reply, just in:

"Short answer: No. Lard is not just any animal fat, and it is never beef fat. It is pig fat, from the fatty tissue around the kidneys (this is top-quality leaf lard). Second quality is back fat, found between the skin and back muscle. Leaf lard has no discernible flavor, and is ideal for pastry. Back fat lard is OK for frying (e.g. chicken).

"Store-bought lard is hydrogenated, which introduces undesirable substances. 'Real' lard, carefully rendered over very low heat, is about 40 percent saturated fat (butter has 60 percent). Its monounsaturated 'good' fat level is about 45 percent, almost double that of butter.

"I always use lard (and butter) in pie pastry. I buy beautiful leaf lard from Flying Pigs Farm in upstate New York, They also sell pork of all cuts from their pastured heritage-breed pigs.

"Beef fat is good for making Yorkshire Pudding."

Karen said...

Re-using the fat in this way is an excellent idea. One of those simple things that I wish I had thought to do before. For those who don't have a Whole Foods in their area, or don't live near Flying Pigs Farm, I just wanted to let you know about the on-line farmer's market It's an excellent resource for sourcing meats directly from a farm of your choice.

Chef Rob said...


Thanks for sharing.